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Official Review by Richard Smith, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
Washington Adventist University is a Seventh-day Adventist university located in Takoma Park, Maryland. The school opened in 1904 and has been known as Washington Training College, Washington Foreign Mission Seminary, Washington Missionary College, and Columbia Union College. It changed it’s name to Washington Adventist University in 2009.
The biggest programs at the university are related to the business school and the nursing program. It is popular in the region for it’s School of Graduate and Professional Services. Notable alumni include former Maryland congressman Roscoe Bartlett and fashion designer Rachel Roy.
Washington Adventist University was formerly an NCAA Division I (soccer) and II (all other programs) school. They left and generally play in the NAIA and United States Collegiate Athletic Association (USCAA) college associations. The school's teams are known as the Shock.
The 2008 men's baseball team won the USCAA National Championship, the first national championship in the school's history.
The school's basketball program has seen some great success lately. In 2014 they won the USCAA National Championship and in 2016 played in both the NAIA and USCAA tournaments.
The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:
Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
There are no food options at Shock games. There is a small table where some candy items are sold. But realistically you need to eat or drink before or after the games.
The small gym at Washington Adventist University makes some high school gyms look big.
There are a couple sets of bleachers along one side of the basketball court. And I noticed that some of the wooden bleachers are in pretty bad shape. The other main seating area is on the stage of the small gym. That seemed like the hot place to watch games. The crowd in that area was fully engaged into the game and provided a great atmosphere for the Shock.
That stage area also serves as the entrance to the gym. You have to walk across this area to get to the court side seating. I think that a training area on the benches side of the small gym used to be the main entrance but at some point the design was changed slightly.
Because of the small size of the gym and the unique stage seating, the Shock play in a pretty fun little space.
There was no cheerleaders or bands to be seen at the game I attended. The gym also has a very basic, rudimentary scoreboard.
There is not much to the local neighborhood. Washington Adventist University is located in a fairly residential area of Takoma Park. You will need to venture into more gritty areas to find restaurants and drinking options.
One of my favorite DC area food choices is located very close by. Pho 75 is a small, hole in the wall Vietnamese restaurant that I have been going to for nearly a quarter of a century. The iconic pho dish can be had in many varieties and is quite delicious.
For other food options you would have to venture into Silver Spring or College Park.
The town of College Park is located along U.S. Route 1. RJ Bentley's Filling Station, Potbelly Sandwich Works, Jimmy John's, Ledo Pizza, and Five Guys are all good options in this "downtown" area. Looney's Pub and Bobby's Burger Palace are two other great recommendation, and are located in The Varsity building (8150 Baltimore Ave) north of the downtown area, and may be even closer to the stadium if walking.
If you end up in Silver Spring instead of College Park take a look at the choices around the AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center, which is a great option for artsy type movies.
And did I mention you are near Washington, DC? The amount of attractions, museums, restaurants and other sights are astounding. Spend some time pre or postgame seeing the many things around this great city.
Georgetown is a good start in DC proper. The options there will astound you, but Billy Martin's Tavern (1264 Wisconsin Ave NW) and Georgetown Cupcake (3301 M St NW) will also treat one right. A few of my favorites in other parts of the city are Smith Commons (1245 H Street, NE in the Atlas Arts District), Doi Moi (1800 14th St NW in Logan Circle) and Bar Charley (1825 18th St NW near Dupont Circle). A good suggestion is to stop by Bar Charley for some great craft cocktails and walk the few blocks over to Doi Moi to finish up with some great Asian small plates.
I found that the fans at Washington Adventist games make the experience pretty awesome. They are friendly before the game and make the gym loud at all the right times.
As with most small college gyms the bulk of the fans tend to be family or friends of both teams. There will be some local fans who just happen to stop by for the game as well.
Student attendance at games could be an issue as the university has many night and weekend students and not the largest resident student base. Luckily the small gym works in their favor.
I would not call Washington Adventist University hard to find. But I also would not call it the easiest place to find either. The Takoma Park/Silver Spring/College Park area has many roads that all seem to go in different varying directions. The strength of the area is also that it is not far off of the Capital Beltway, the infamous ring road around the nation's capital. Put the address of the school into your GPS and you should be fine.
There is plenty of parking at the school. But the small parking lots in the center of campus may fill quickly. If all else fails there should be some parking on the opposite side of the campus soccer field.
Finding the actual gym may take some work. It is located in a building just north and behind the campus radio station. Walking to the gym I felt that instead of going to a sporting event that I was walking into the loading dock of a receiving department at the university.
It looked like the same small table setup that was selling candy at the games may have also been selling admissions. But when I came into the gym the table was unmanned, although it was manned later. So I am not totally sure what the admission policy or charges are. Either way I am sure the games are quite cheap to attend.
Parking is free and there is no food options, beyond candy, that will stretch your pocketbook.
The quirky nature of the small bandbox style gym is an extra all of its own. Besides a place that has a great environment, it is just also cool and historic. It reminds me of small gym seen in the movie Hoosiers.
Check out the banners for both Columbia Union College, as well as the one for Shock's 2014 national championship basketball team.
The gymnasium at Washington Adventist University is hard to find, but once there you will watch a game in a historic feeling building with fans that enjoy their team.
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